Saturday, 22 September 2018


What a summer it has been. After a particularly cold winter, followed by   an exceptionally wet spring, who would have thought that this past summer in southern England would be so very hot, humid and without rain?
This took its toll on plants, including trees. The Mayow Park orchard trees were showing signs of stress. The oldest trees were planted early in 2012 and the others were planted in early 2016. A plea was sent out asking for orchard carers to water selected trees and six people came forward, three of whom were helping out for the first time.
The need to provide 20 litres to each tree once a week, rather than frequent small amounts, was explained and understood. Small amounts of water dampen the very top of the soil but 20 litres should soak down and reach the roots.
There was one difficulty; no easily accessible water supply. Over the past few years our orchard carers have found ingenious ways to bring quantities of water to the trees including bringing a large water container in a child’s buggy and carrying 4 lots of 5 litre spring water bottles  filled with tap water in a shopper’s trolley bag on wheels.
One orchard carer put pen to paper to reflect on the task they had agreed to take on.

Well, my young son comes home from school every day with messages about the environment...all the things we shouldn't be doing, using plastic, driving the car etc etc. While I appreciate the eco drive in school it was getting me down a little...all this negative talk. So when I saw a post asking for help with the young trees in the park I thought this might be a lovely thing to do together that was actually going to have a positive impact on our local environment.

I have to say I was a little overwhelmed at first with the logistics of getting 20 litres to our designated tree every week but I realised a little hodgepodging with a bike trailer and tub trug and smaller jugs it could be done relatively easily. We did get some slightly odd looks filling up at the cafe toilets but my chatty son was quick to explain what we were up to, to anyone who paused long enough to let him. The dog also liked to join in...I'm sure the tree won't miss the few laps of water he stole too much. As the summer went on my son's enthusiasm did wane a little, so we introduced ice lollies post watering as a reward. We enjoyed them beside our tree hoping that he was also feeling refreshed and cooler after our efforts.

Thank you to that family for all their efforts. The good news is that the younger trees, with that bit of extra TLC, avoided serious dehydration. The older trees (planted in 2012) without individual carers had a much harder time. They had more fruit drop than usual during June and many of the remaining fruits showed peck marks from winged birds (possibly the parakeets) who were suffering from lack of food.

Unfortunately the remaining UNRIPE fruits on all the fruit trees were  picked off one day in July by person or persons unknown, with no fruits remaining, not even windfalls. We had hoped to share some apples with park users at our Apple Day on 6th October and to compare the different tastes. Our default option is to buy a number of commercial varieties for tasting instead.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Tree bracket

In June this year a young(ish) red horse chestnut in Mayow Park was observed and identified as  dead with only a  few dried leaves remaining, no leaf buds and brittle branches, perhaps due to the challenging weather last winter (extra cold), spring (extra damp) and summer (extra dry). Lewisham's tree officer arranged for tree surgeons to remove all branches. The tree was able to remain as a monolith, standing proudly, providing habitats for fungi and invertebrates.

monolith red horse chestnut: photo A Sheridan
By the end of August a magnificent Dryad's Saddle bracket fungus (Polyporus squamosus) had taken up residence roughly 2 metres above the ground.

Underside Dryad's Saddle (photo A Sheridan)

Dryad's Saddle view from above  (photo A Sheridan)
This fungus is supposed to smell strongly of water melon but it was too high up to find out. It does not have gills but has pores instead. Its chosen habitat is deciduous trees and stumps. It is a fine looking fungus.

Monday, 6 August 2018

plum pruning and pocket plum

Not many people are aware of the small fruit bed which is tended by volunteers from Friends of Mayow Park not far from the cafe and near the water fountain. Look and you will find a Victoria Plum tree and a Jonagold apple.
Last year some of the fruits on the plum showed signs of Pocket Plum.  This year it suffered more.
According to the RHS:
Pocket plum is a fungal infection of the young fruits of plums, damsons and some ornamental species, causing them to develop abnormally, without stones.
This is caused by a fungus Taphrina pruni The fruits often develop a bent banana shape. There is no current chemical-free treatment. To control the disease all fruits and infected branches need to be removed before spored develop.
Unfortunately, though some fruits were removed early in the season, we did not pay enough attention to this tree.

Two volunteers arrived at 9am this morning 6th August, to give some positive attention to the plum tree. The sun was already blazing down and we wanted to finish before the day became too hot.
We pruned branches which had diseased fruit, removing all prunings from the site. We also removed a branch growing at ground level below the graft union, which was clearly not the same tree variety.
All tools were disinfected.
Next year we need to be very vigilant early in the season.

tractor mows meadow

The annual hay-making meadow-cutting in Mayow Park took place this morning 6th August 2018, discreetly and without fanfare around 9.30am. A lovely sight on a hot morning. You could imagine you are out of town in a rural setting.
How many people noticed?

Monday, 9 July 2018

Splendid day for a lark in the park part 2

The Lark in the Park event on 30th June this year celebrated 140 years since Mayow Park was opened to the public, in 1878. Some people dressed up and some stalls included a Victorian theme though this was not obligatory.
Numerous community groups were respresented with stalls and there was plenty to do at the event.
Voluntary Services Lewisham,  Forest Hill Society and Friends of Mayow Park were there.
Food for the masses was provided by Min Albi (meaning Food from the Heart'), helping Syrian refugees in South London to use their cooking skills to gain work experience and entrepreneurial independence.
Opposite their food stall was the Women's Institute gazebo with some of their delicious cakes available to buy.
Forest Hill Society hosted the Lewisham Swifts group, raising awareness that swift numbers are in decline and how we can help these amazing birds.

Forest Hill Society and Lewisham Swifts
The local Perry Vale Safer Neighbourhood Team was on hand to offer advice.
Dr Bike gave tips and help on caring for your bike.
Dr Bike and local Police. photo S Hatchard
  Free tennis was on offer at the tennis courts. Young children were catered for  with a bouncy castle and soft play area.
Bouncy castle fun - photo S Hatchard
Sydenham Arts provided musical activities in the bowls green.
Brown and Green cafe was open for business as usual.
Usborne Books had a stall which included Victorian toys.
Mayows Mutts, a local group of dogs with their owners, had a dog parade with raffle prizes.

The Friends of Mayow Park stall had a few Victorian activities aimed at children. Children could play quoits, practice skipping with skipping ropes and learn to play hopscotch using chalked markings on the tarmac path.

If that was not enough, they could make Victorian-style brooches.
They could also make thaumatropes. We called them 'spinners' for simplicity.

More on thaumatropes  can be found on this website: 
Every child that took part in an activity received a paper bag printed with pictures of Victorian objects and containing loose sweets;  no plastic bags or plastic-wrapped sweets 140 years ago. 
Paper bag for sweets
     Children also received an additional gift of a small Victorian-style slate board and pencil.
Research for these Victorian related activities was carried out by Pippa, one of the active members of Friends of Mayow Park.
The whole event seemed to go very well. Thank you to Perry Vale ward for organising this enjoyable community event.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Splendid day for a lark in the park Part 1

What a splendid day it was for a lark in the park in Mayow Park on Saturday 30th June 2018.
The event was organised by Lewisham Council's Perry Vale ward as a community event and community stalls were there in numbers. The event joined forces with Sydenham Arts who held their activities in the bowls green so the park was buzzing.  So many people smiling in the sunshine.

Community groups came to set up at 11am and public events  began at midday.
A Victorian theme ran through for some of the stalls in recognition of the 140th anniversary since the opening of Mayow Park to the public in June 1878.
For the Friends of Mayow Park it was also an excuse for a double celebration. The group (formerly known as Mayow Park Users' Group) held their very first official meeting in April 1993 and have been going for 25 years.

In recognition of this double anniversary, Friends of Mayow Park (FOMP) set up their stall to face the Victorian water fountain.  The monument commemorates the Rev William Taylor Jones who kick-started the process that was to lead to the creation of Sydenham Public Recreation Ground, later renamed  Mayow Park. While the fountain no longer works, it stands as a proud memorial to the origins of the park.

Putting up the bunting (photo S Hatchard)
Victorian fountain with bunting (photo S Hatchard)
    Our gazebo was installed in a jiffy and soon  all were busy preparing the table, signs and activities.
Getting stall ready (photo A Sheridan)
Gazebo up (photo A Sheridan)

Children's Victorian art and craft activities were part of the FOMP offer and two young people took on much of the work to reach out to members of the public.
Victorian brooch making activity (photo P Moss)
brooch-making preparations (photo P Moss)

Sue and Sandra prepare the thaumatrope activity (photo P Moss)
The FOMP stall displayed a number of items that might be of interest to visitors:
- an article from the Sydenham Society Summer 2018 newsletter, written by Steve Grindlay and explaining the creation of Mayow Park.

- Walk on the Wild Side map of the park showing just a few of the significant trees

    And a scrap book that FOMP volunteers are putting together called 'Mayow Park Memories'.   The front cover is a copy of an original painting by local artist Darren Russell Hayman.                                                                                                               
More about this event to follow.